In October last year, The Register posted an article about Microsoft not having any plans to release SP2 for Windows 7 or Windows Server 2008 R2. Up to now it looks like they were right.
It’s now May 2013 and no Service Pack has been announced yet, nor any plans for an update roll up. What this means is that after installing SP1 on Windows Server 2008 R2, you will be installing no less than ??? updates.
Why no service pack
It certainly looks like Microsoft is trying to use this technique to save costs and also to push customers to their latest OS, Windows 8. Although we all know by now that Windows 8 on the desktop is more or less a disaster and that Windows 7 has the likelihood to become the second “Windows XP” Microsoft does not want that a huge amount of customers are going to stick with Windows 7 until early 2020.
They say they will support an OS about 10 years after release, half of this time is mainstream support which lasts until Jan. 2015. Having your clients increase the TCO by having to install a huge number of updates is certainly a way to getting people to switch, even if they aren’t happy with it.
Microsoft is in the luxurious position that it actually can pull of a stunt like this because there aren’t many alternatives. Sure there’s Ubuntu and some other Linux distributions but they aren’t making their way to the common enterprise desktop any time soon.
Windows 8 to get it’s first update soon
Windows 8 will get it’s first update with Windows Blue, hopefully a few things will make it back to the desktop, one of these would be the beloved start menu that everyone has grown accustomed to for almost 18 years. (The first version of this start menu was featured in Windows 95, which was released in August 1995.) Nevertheless, it doesn’t look like it will. We might get a button to get us onto the start screen, but AFAIK, the start screen will be here to stay.
With the release of Windows Blue, there will also be a new release of Windows Server 2012, which is (no surprise here) Windows Server 2012 R2. I think it is safe to assume we won’t be seeing even SP1 for Windows 8 and “Windows Blue” will be marketed like a service pack. Microsoft already announced Blue will be available for free from the Microsoft Store.
Looking beyond Windows 8
Microsoft has told us that it is planning to move quicker in OS releases and that means we’ll be seeing a lot more versions of Windows coming out soon. What this also means is that it is likely that we will see service packs less and less, and might even be already a thing of the past.
Other Microsoft products have seen this new kind of releases already, one of them is Visual Studio 2012. We are now on VS2012 Update 2, update 3 is planned soon and it will be the last. After this, new VS version, new TFS version, new licenses to buy.
I don’t see this changing, because indirectly this is benefiting Microsoft in several ways. They get to shorten the lifespan of their products, they get more revenue from new products and everyone just has to keep up in order to not get into an ‘endless update stream.’ Service packs are expensive to engineer, monthly updates are a lot cheaper, Microsoft can focus on creating something new instead of having to create a big fix for the stuff they made in the past.